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Diaries of an oddball accountant acca cima aat

Diaries of an oddball accountant – Year 5 – Putting CIMA 1st (properly)

My ‘Diaries of an oddball accountant’ is me sharing my highs and lows to the emotional but very rewarding Accounting rollercoaster qualification that I know you guys are on.

Read and use it as a confidence booster (to know you’re not alone) – a motivational story (to prove it’s worth it) – and a fun read (yes, you have permission to laugh at me!)

Over the last five weeks I’ve shared my honest, candid, funny and inspiring six-year accounting journey (yeah sounds ages doesn’t it!).

I’d love to hear what you think and where you are in your journey, leave a comment below or send me an email – hello@prettysuccesfulcareers.co.uk


Putting CIMA 1st (properly)

I’m coming into this year with a good mindset, I ‘only’ have 2 exams to pass this year and then I’m DONE! I can see and feel the light at the end of the tunnel.


The only thing in my way was that E3 paper!

You know I describe the Accounting journey as an emotional rollercoaster, well one of the main reasons is because of exam papers like E3!

Honestly, the bain of my CIMA life!


How could I manage to pass E2 with the highest ever CIMA mark I’ve got but failed E3 twice already… oh no make that failed 3 times!

In March I sat it again and failed this time with 44%. ARGH?!?!?!


I know I talk about my failures quite a lot, mainly because it was a massive part of my journey, but also because not enough Accountants talk about theirs. You see all these social media posts about ‘I passed with 99%!’ and ‘I thought I had failed but got 65%!’


I’m not going to bullsh*t you and say failures are inevitable and they make you a better accountant.

Failures make the journey more emotional and longer!


But what I will say is they are a learning opportunity and it builds your personality in a way that only failing exams can.

You know that feeling of ‘I have to do this’, and ‘I will find that commitment and dedication bone in my body’.

It’s a powerful personality trait picking yourself and learning from a failure.

And once you qualify it will be a part of your accounting journey, for which I encourage you to positively shout about.


Do I go into job interviews saying I failed with 36% (more than once!) – hell no! I talk about why I’m a great accountant and my ambitious determined personality. If I need to explain why I will always talk about why I’m so determined, because my CIMA journey was tough and I overcome all the failures and took them as a learning opportunity.


Time to pick yourself up!

On 30th August 2012 I picked myself up and sat my E3 exam for the 4th time.

How did I pick myself up? Well, it started with having a word with myself and making a mindset shift about how and why I was going to finish this and I set a new timeframe – Dec 2012.

No way was I ‘wasting’ any more of my life on E3. I was desperate to be a Finance Manager and get that promotion and pay rise.


I was working in a temporary finance assistant job (on purpose), it wasn’t a bad job, but it was just enough to keep the level of finance good enough on my CV, but for me it meant less pressure at work so I really could put study as my number 1 focus.



And that’s what I did, focused, and seriously believed I would pass it! I knew the knowledge by now, and I just tweaked my exam technique to answer the questions the way Mr CIMA wanted me to!

Guess what – It worked and I passed with 57% – thank goodness! (Relief face!)

Whilst I’m writing, I can’t stop thinking ‘I wish I had some more help and support so I wouldn’t have had to go on this alone’!


Now, in September, this meant one thing … I only had ONE CIMA exam left!

And it was the one I was looking forward to the most! Back in my days it was called TOPCIMA and it was the only case study style exam.

After 5 years of CIMA and working successfully up the career ladder I had had some excellent exposure to strategy and commercial awareness – so I knew this case study suited my skill set and accounting thought process.


I stayed at the same temp job so that I could prioritise and qualify, it’s really good for me to have one focus and I literally am like a dog with a bone – on.a.mission.


One of my favourite exam days – ever!

On 22nd Nov 2012 I sat my last ever TOPCIMA exam, and let me tell you a secret, I couldn’t have been more confident and happy that I knew I had passed (without any arrogance, you know what I mean!).

It was like that case study style exam was written for me and I just finally ‘got it’ right first time!

But let’s face it, from my 5 years so far, I genuinely thought I had passed and didn’t… so I still had those ‘maybe not’ thoughts. (It doesn’t go away, you just learn to talk to yourself differently).


Thank goodness the wait for these results was only a few weeks, and on 13th December 2012 it was an amazing day …

I passed TOPCIMA and was now exam qualified!!


FINALLY! The accounting journey was over!


I got the result I had been working so so hard for. The feeling of relief, happiness and smugness is ridiculous!

I encourage (and beg a little bit) to you to KEEP going and finish what you started.


Year 5 was amazing wasn’t it! Can you believe my accounting journey? Is it similar to yours? Feel free to leave a comment below and share with your colleagues (yes, I give you permission to share and laugh at me!)

Oh, and do you think you would class me as an oddball accountant yet?!



If any of my story has resonated with you and you are looking for any Accounting help, get in touch and let’s have a chat about what coaching options would suit you – this year – to make this your year of exam success!

To book a call just click here – http://bit.ly/PSCChat

Thanks. Helen x


P.S – Oh if you’ve missed any of the early diary years – then just click below!

Year 1 – Super Keen times!

My Year 2 – ‘Keep going’

Year 3 – ‘How have I not finished yet?!’

That Year 4 – My power year!

Year 5 – Putting CIMA 1st (properly) (This one!)

The Year 6 – Having that smug feeling & what I’ve done next! (Coming soon!)

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